Elissa Goodman: Thriving after Hodgkin's lymphoma, Hypothyroidism, Hashimoto's, and Celiac disease

cancer immunity podcast May 13, 2021

Speak thanks to podcast producer: Chris Robertson.


I feel so grateful for the opportunity to have gotten to know Elissa Goodman and her life's story and work. The first part of her life and health were full of challenges. What is so inspiring and thought-provoking is how healthy and vibrant she is now at age 61!

I hope you enjoy this Practical Nontoxic Living podcast as much as I have. Please send me your thoughts @ruanliving on Instagram or email [email protected].

–Sophia Ruan Gushée 🌱


#35: Elissa Goodman Podcast Intro

Ever since I recorded this podcast, I’ve been thinking a lot about smoothies as meals, cold-pressed juices as an IV of nutrients, our dehydration epidemic, intermittent fasting, how much longer it takes our digestive system to process a pizza versus a plant-based meal with the same calories, and the inspiring life of Elissa Goodman, who is the guest of this podcast and who left the topics that I just mentioned at the top of my mind.

Based in Los Angeles, Elissa is a popular Holistic Nutritionist, Lifestyle Cleanse Expert, and author of the best-selling book Cancer Hacks: A Holistic Guide to Overcoming your Fears and Healing Cancer (Amazon affiliate link).

At age 32, Elissa was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. After her cancer diagnosis, she learned that she also had Hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s and Celiac disease. Then, more than 11 years from her cancer diagnosis, Elissa lost her husband to Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when he was 45 years old. Elissa became a single mom of two young girls.

These experiences led Elissa to quit her job at Vogue and become a Certified Holistic Nutritionist

But, Elissa quickly learned that optimal nutrition wasn’t the only necessity to healing. Elissa realized the importance of also addressing massive emotional roadblocks that contributed to her illnesses--such as chronic stress, past trauma, perfectionism, feelings of not being good enough, and poor sleep. 

Fast forward, Elissa has helped thousands of clients manage their own health issues. And she makes eating healthy even easier in several ways, including through her book Cancer Hacks, her successful cleanses, and her Super Seed Bars. 

Elissa’s mission is to educate and encourage healthy, mindful living, and help others embrace the concept that we are a product of what we eat and how we treat ourselves.  Learn more about Elissa’s offerings in the podcast show notes.

A collaborator with leading health and wellness partners, Elissa is also often asked to contribute to outlets such as Huffington Post, abc7, NBC LA, E! News, Well & Good, Mind Body Green, and more. Elissa is currently working on her second book, which you’ll hear more about in our podcast. 

Today, Elissa remains free of cancer, Hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s and Celiac disease. She says she feels better than ever and she looks amazing! I encourage you to visit the podcast show notes to see Elissa. At the age of 61, Elissa is an inspiring reminder that it’s often never too late to develop a life force that is so vibrant and resilient that it emanates from the inside-out. 

Please remember as you listen to this conversation that nothing in this podcast should be interpreted as medical advice. I know you’ll hear many wonderful tips. However, always consult with your trusted healthcare providers to explore what is best for you.

  • How much longer does it take for us to digest a pizza versus the same calories from a plant-based meal? 
    • 9 times longer!
    • Pizza (14 hours) and plant-based meal (90 minutes), 800 calories each.

Podcast Show Notes

[3:47] Elissa's background

  • Was sick all the time, eczema everywhere, digestive issues; was labeled the sick kid in her house.
  • Family was very type A, drive, perfectionistic, hard-working.
  • Was often trying to feel better, more energy, even though she was young.
  • Fast-paced family schedule.
  • Move to NYC after college, entered marketing for Vogue magazine.
  • Met husband in NYC.
  • Moved to Los Angeles, California.
  • Diagnosed with early-stage Hodgkin's Lymphoma at age 32 in 1992.
  • One physician, the third doctor that Elissa saw, a radiologist/oncologist, asked about her happiness and stress. He said a lot of cancer has to do with emotional well-being. He talked about the chi in the body being drained from not having passion and love in her life.
  • 11 years later, her husband was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. 18 months later, he passed away at age 45. Elissa became a single mom to her 10- and 7- year old daughters.
  • Elissa then dived deep into the various ways she could optimize her healing. She got certified in holistic nutrition to optimize the health of her and her daughters.
  • Parents of each Elissa and her husband did not have cancer. Elissa had been highly stressed and had PTSD. "You probably would have looked at me from the outside and thought that I had it all made." I was stressed all the time and not feeling good.
  • Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds (Amazon affiliate link). Ten themes among those who experienced radical remission.

    • Emotional: stress, trauma, PTSD
    • Food
    • Supplements
    • Exercise
  • Mind Over Medicine - REVISED EDITION: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself (Amazon affiliate link).

  • First 7 years of your life, the subconscious is downloading. We're basically 5% conscious.

[20:00] Sophia asks Elissa about Elissa's thoughts on the key pillars for healing.

  • To thrive, Elissa thinks that we need to heal emotionally: self-love, relaxation, meditation, yoga, breathwork... even when we're excited, we can be stressed.
  • Sleep is #2 because that's when the body repairs, regenerates.
  • Food is the 3rd pillar. Nourish with whole foods.
  • Exercise.

[23:24] "I don't believe in aging."

  • "I feel like right now in my life, being 60,...I basically feel better than I did 10 years ago, feel better than I did 20 years ago,...feel better than even in my 20s!"
  • Because I don't push myself to the place of what I did in those years, and I also just accept myself so I can really exhale. And I do sleep really well. Of course, I eat super well most of the time. Not always! I'm definitely not a perfect eater--by a long shot-- nor do I want to be.
  • And, then also, spiritually, I just really try to work on myself as well. And this last year with COVID has given me that opportunity to elevate that part even more."
  • But right now, I know the people that really light me up, and who I want to spend time with. And then when I do spend time with them, I feel so amazing.
  • As well as I know how to take the time for myself to decompress, relax, and not push myself too hard.
  • And I now know how to fuel my body --in terms of what it needs with food and to stay hydrated.
  • Writing next book.
  • Creates cleanses for people.
  • Healing Hypothyroidism, Hashimoto's, Celiac... took years... Stress is a trigger.

[27:00] Sophia asks, What do you wish more people knew about viruses?

  • We have all sorts of viruses in us, that are dormant in the body. When you're stressed, not sleeping, not eating well, or traumatic event (including having a baby), these viruses can wreak havoc.
  • A lot of women get Hashimoto's after pregnancy.
  • [30:50] Most of us are deficient in Vitamin D. For children, Elissa loves Mary Ruth's supplement line, including for kids. "I think her stuff is exceptional."

 [31:24] Infrared saunas.

  • Sophia & Elissa loves spending time in infrared saunas.
  • Infrared helps kill bacteria and viruses.
  • During COVID, there was a waitlist for Sunlighten Saunas.
  • Elissa loves dry brushing too. She's been a big fan since her cancer was a lymphatic one so she's been dry brushing since her cancer diagnosis.

[33:10] Elissa is not vegan: plant-based though. 

  • 80% plant-based, 20% animal protein (as clean as is practical). Loves fish. Tries to have smaller portions of animal protein and loads up on vegetables, especially through soups and juices.
  • Celery juice.
  • Cucumber juice, celery, lemon, ginger. Liquid IV of vitamins and minerals.
  • Loves bone broth, which feels really healing. Very helpful in healing from celiac.
  • Lost her taste for sugar even though she was a sugar addict.
  • She loves to eat, loves food!

 [36:09] Our biochemistry is dynamic.

  • You need different things at different stages of your life: infancy, adolescents, pregnancy, nursing, menopause, etc.

[37:00] Fatty livers.

Elissa sees a lot of fatty liver so we should be careful of overdoing certain foods, even healthy fats. It takes the liver a lot of energy to create the bile to break down fat. We have gone a little overboard: butter in our coffee, eggs for breakfast, smoothie with avocado and/or nut butter.

[38:00] Protein for vegetarians and vegans can be tricky.

[39:14] Intermittent fasting.

  • Elissa loves giving her digestive system a break. She feels more energized, mentally alert, creative, and light. It can balance hormones, lower inflammation.
  • Various forms of intermittent fasting.
  • Intuitive Fasting: The Flexible Four-Week Intermittent Fasting Plan to Recharge Your Metabolism and Renew Your Health by Will Cole (Amazon affiliate link).

  • Sometimes when you go too long without eating, it can create stress and stimulate too much cortisol.
  • When we eat so frequently, it takes a lot of energy to digest the food.
  • [42:10] Study by Zack Bush on college kids. Tested transit time for food to go through small intestine:
    • 2 slices of pizza: 14 hours
    • Plant-based meal for same calories as pizza: 90 minutes
  • So the pizza hangs out inside for 14 hours but you pile in more food before the pizza is fully digested.
  • Car accidents have led to the discovery of tons of food inside people.
  • Average healthy person should try to cleanse daily with simple things:
    • Drinking enough water: 16 ounces mandatory first thing in the morning. Dehydrationg: coffee, dairy... We have a major dehydration epidemic. Hydration is cleansing.
    • Drinking green juice without sugar is detoxifying.
    • Pureed soup is cleansing.
    • Eating vegetables, especially cruciferous and bitter greens.
    • Sleep helps body detoxify.
    • Infrared sauna, dry brushing.
    • Yoga, breathwork (detoxes lungs)
    • You don't want to wait until you feel crappy and tired: You want to feel good everyday!

[45:50] Fiber in smoothies (compared to green juices).

  • Smoothies can be a meal
  • Cold-pressed juices are liquid IV of vitamins and minerals

[51:15] "I didn't even know what feeling good felt like."

Clean -- Expanded Edition: The Revolutionary Program To Restore The Body's Natural Ability To Heal Itself (Amazon affiliate link)

[51:40] Ten lightning round questions:

What do you wish more people knew about:

  1. Food. Real, whole foods from the earth is the most nutrient-dense and will help you stay healthy.
  2. Exercise. You don't need to do hardcore exercise to be healthy. You can walk, yoga, hike, be out in nature to benefit from movement.
  3. Sleep. The body resets between 10pm and 2am. Going to bed earlier and strive for 8 hours is ideal.
  4. Mindfulness. Mindfulness is the cornerstone of thriving in life.
  5. Technology. It's a love and a hate. Boredom (without technology) can help you tap into what really makes you tick.
  6. Western medicine. It's crucial in life-saving scenarios. But, the amount of medications are harming us, and a holistic approach can help us thrive.
  7. Eastern medicine. Having been around for centuries, there are so many powerful healing benefits from Eastern medicine that can be incorporated with Western medicine.
  8. Our environment. The amount of toxins in air, water, products is something we really need to be conscious about. They're in our tissues, fat, organs,.... obviously, that's not healthy. We really need to be more conscious of avoiding them.
  9. Resiliency / Healing. They can heal many things if they have the knowledge and the ability to believe that they can heal.
  10. Aging. Aging doesn't have to be about health issues and taking medications. You can age gracefully and "add years" to your life.

[57:48] What are your top practical nontoxic tips?

  1. Buy organic produce and animal products.
  2. Nontoxic cleaning supplies.
  3. Drink filtered water.
  4. Be mindful of EMFs.

Bonus after the podcast

Thanks for tuning in! What follows is more of my conversation with Elissa about her cleanses and other offerings. And then we talk about how we try to raise our daughters to have a healthy relationship with eating.

[59:00] Elissa's services (learn more on www.ElissaGoodman.com).

  • S.O.U.P. Cleanse with fermented vegetables, bone broth, Super Seed Bars, and more!
  • Super Seed Bars,
  • 7 Day Reset (PDF)
  • Elissa’s Autoimmune Hacks (PDF)
  • Elissa’s Cleansing Lifestyle Tips (PDF)
  • 1:1 consultations

[1:02:12] How to raise daughters to have a healthy, balanced relationship with food and eating.


IMPORTANT NOTE: Nothing should be interpreted as medical advice. This podcast shares Elissa's experience and her opinions are her own. 


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